In a circular economy, reduced materials used for renewable, durable, and reparable products and solutions based on recycled input materials that are employed as long as possible are provided. At the end of their sustainable life, the input materials are fully recovered or recycled, which reduces their ecological impact. The circular economy is the necessary alternative to the current linear economic model and stems from increasing awareness of planetary resource limits.
The circular economy is driven by sustainability ambitions and policy objectives linked to climate change, environmental protection, and the sustainable use of finite resources. Policy examples around the globe include the European Union Circular Economy Action Plan and Plastics Strategy and the waste ban in China.
Group Innovation & Sustainability (GIS) leads all circular economy efforts at Clariant and has established resource efficiency and sustainable production targets for 2030. They are reported under the topic Environmental Protection and Resources.
All business units and several company functions, among them Sustainability Transformation and Emerging Technologies, evaluate the opportunities offered by an increasingly circular economy.
Clariant reviews risks and opportunities associated with the circular economy as part of its corporate strategy management process. This structured approach further outlines, anchors, and advances the topic within Clariant’s business units.
Clariant’s contributions to a circular economy
Clariant contributes to a circular economy by:
- offering a continuously expanding product portfolio that enables a circular economy
- exploring promising options, partnerships, and areas for growth and innovation
- increasing the eco-efficiency of its production processes
- choosing waste and renewable resources instead of virgin or fossil resources, where suitable
- redesigning processes
- reducing water and energy use
- practicing closed-loop recycling at its sites
In its 2021 Strategic Management ProcessStrategic Management ProcessClariant’s Strategic Management Process (SMP) is conducted by the business units in collaboration with Corporate Planning & Strategy. The SMP ensures that Group-level as well as businessunit-level strategy development is an iterative process that addresses the relevant megatrends observed by Clariant., Clariant defined Circular Solutions as one of its four Innovation Arenas. The circular economy goes beyond the company’s own operations, affecting its complete value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product.. This approach also includes analyzing the full life cycle of products and business models. Ongoing circulation of materials and products benefits business and the environment. A circular economy has the potential to create additional business opportunities and product or service developments.
Clariant is particularly committed to preventing the spread of plastic waste in oceans, rivers, and other natural systems. The company offers solutions for mechanical recycling, dissolution and depolymerization processes, and chemical recycling. Its wide range of innovative stabilizers and compatibilizers supports obtaining higher-value plastics from recycling streams, while other products make materials more durable or improve existing and novel recycling processes.
Clariant is convinced that moving toward a more sustainable plastics sector is critical to the industry’s success. However, a fully circular plastics chain requires reliable collection systems around the globe, improved sorting, increased rates of recycling, and enhanced quality of recyclates. Different stakeholderStakeholderStakeholders are people or groups whose interests are linked in various ways with those of a company. They include shareholders, business partners, employees, neighbors, and the community. needs, consumer behaviors, and expectations must be aligned. Existing production processes and chemical compositions need to be adapted to circularity needs.
Internal projects and initiatives
Since 2019, Clariant has focused on the circular plastics economy in its company-wide EcoCircle initiative. It is driven by the »Sustainability Transformation« organizational unit and extends to the company’s entire value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product.. In 2021, Clariant has intensified its competencies to develop specialty products for a circular plastics economy at dedicated sites.
EcoCircle is well recognized and provides solutions along three guiding principles: reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic. The initiative is considered a best-practice example in the industry and includes presentations, customer workshops, and publications such as the Global Goals Yearbook. Clariant’s commitment to plastics recycling along its value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product. and advocacy for EcoCircle also resulted in outside recognition: The company earned the 2020 China GoldenBee Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award, presented by China Sustainability Tribune and GoldenBee, a pioneer network of CSR and sustainable development in China.
Clariant’s Business Unit Industrial & Consumer Specialties develops particular circular economy products, such as de-icing fluids for airplanes. The business unit conducts an on-site recycling program that enables up to 70 % of the fluids’ glycol to be reused in the manufacture of new de-icing agents directly at the airport.
Projects and initiatives with external partners
Clariant is engaged in various projects and activities that promote a more resource-efficient and sustainable circular society. The company supports policymakers’ targets and customers’ sustainability ambitions by collaborating with industry partners across the value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product.. For example, INREP, an integrated approach toward Recycling of Plastics, is a joint project of science and industry with 36 partners from the value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product.. Clariant is active in the field of chemical recycling. Clariant is also involved in the EU project Revolution involving electric vehicles. The aim is to maximize the range of electric vehicles and to recycle end-of-life vehicles by optimizing recycled plastics and advanced lightweight materials. The objective is to swiftly implement and establish innovative circular solutions in line with the waste hierarchy principles. Figure 005
For example, Clariant is a founding member of Process4Sustainability at Industriepark Hoechst, Germany. This cluster fosters circularity to achieve carbon neutrality.
005WASTE HIERARCHY PRINCIPLES
Business Unit Additives collaborates with the English biomaterials company Floreon, which develops and markets engineered polylactic acid (PLA) compounds from approximately 80 % renewable, plant-based raw materials. These polymers are mechanically tougher than traditional PLA, deliver significant energy savings in processing, and are industrially compostable. Clariant’s additives improve these biopolymers’ performance and processing characteristics, offering brand owners the possibility to reduce their use of fossil-based virgin polymers.
In addition, Clariant is a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), together with 29 other multinationals along the plastics value chainValue chainThe value chain describes the series of steps in the production process, from raw materials through the various intermediate stages to the ﬁnished end product.. Its mission is to clear plastic waste from the environment by cleaning up bodies of water; building infrastructure to collect, manage, and recycle waste; promoting new technologies; and engaging with nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and communities. Clariant supports the Alliance’s goals with innovation projects that enable design for recycling or the commercialization of chemical recycling, and by actively participating in its working structure. As an AEPW member, Clariant indirectly supports the collection, sorting, and recycling of plastic waste.
In 2021, Clariant also took part in the Circular Economy Initiative Deutschland (CEID) and recommended actions to the German government. In the Low-Carbon Emitting Technology Initiative of the World Economic Forum, Clariant particularly supported the work streams Biomass Utilization and Waste Processing of Plastic Waste.
Furthermore, Clariant joined the EU Circular Plastics Alliance (CPA) in 2021, whose goal is to boost the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million tons by 2025. Clariant’s strategy in the CPA is to combine the design option for reduction, recycling, and reuse with solutions for mechanical or chemical recycling.
The company is also a member of the Circular Economy Working Group of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the Factor10 and Circular Plastics & Packaging projects of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP).
Recycled input materials used
Clariant tries to use recycled materials in production wherever possible. However, the percentage is low due to the nature of the production processes, as recycled raw materials often cannot be used because of purity or safety standard requirements. Clariant supports the expansion of chemical recycling technologies as a way to increase the availability of recycled raw materials for its business units.
Reclaimed products and packaging materials
Clariant mostly provides reusable packaging, which customers can return to Clariant for cleaning and reuse. Other products are shipped as bulk goods in tank trucks and rail tank cars or silo trucks. To the extent possible, nonreusable packaging is recycled for material purposes or, especially in the case of hazardous materials, used to generate energy.
Materials used by weight or volume
|in m t||Continuing operations||Discontinued operations||Total 2021 2||2020 1||2019||2018||2017|
|Total weight or volume of materials that are used to produce the organization’s primary products and services during the reporting period||4.70||0.20||4.90||4.10||4.50||4.60||4.86|
1 Figure restated
2 Every three years, Clariant validates environmental data from all production sites. The last full reporting campaign was in 2020, including estimated discontinued data for Business Unit MasterbatchesMasterbatchesThese are plastic additives in the form of granules with dyestuffs or other additives used to dye or alter the properties of natural plastic. for the first half-year. In interim years, including 2021, the reduced reporting scope comprises the larger sites responsible for at least 95 % of production.